State Medicaid spending dropped to nearly zero in March as the Cuomo administration again delayed payments to superficially balance the state’s books.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s cash report for March, posted on Wednesday, showed just $9.2 million in Medicaid disbursements. The state’s share of Medicaid spending averages almost $2 billion per month. The comptroller’s numbers reflect so-called Department of Health Medicaid, which covers the bulk of the program but excludes most spending on recipients with mental disabilities.

DOH Medicaid spending for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year was down by more than $2 billion from the third quarter, continuing the erratic pattern of recent years.

medicaid-quake-7081639
Source: New York State Division of the Budget, Office of the State Comptroller (click to enlarge)

The maneuver appears to be a repeat of spring 2019, when the state delayed $1.7 billion in Medicaid payments owed to health-care providers and managed care plans from late March to early April.

That transaction – driven by undisclosed spending overages in the Medicaid program – was not made public until weeks after it happened. It threw the newly enacted state budget out of balance and led to what became a $4 billion deficit in the state’s Medicaid budget.

Cuomo’s plan to close that gap included drawing from stronger-than-expected tax receipts, enacting cost-cutting recommendations from his Medicaid Redesign Team and continuing to defer payments into future fiscal years. This time, the delay was done with advance notice and tacit approval of the Legislature.

Such delays are considered bad fiscal management because they disguise the true amount of state spending and raise the risk of cash-flow problems over the long-term.

In spite of skipping a whole month’s worth of payments, state Medicaid spending ended the 2019-20 fiscal year at $23.2 billion, which is 14 percent higher than the year before.

It’s also about $1.5 billion or 6 percent over what the state projected it would spend in January’s update to the financial plan – a sign that the Cuomo administration’s struggles to control Medicaid spending have continued.

 

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!